PLSO The Oregon Surveyor March/April 2022

9 Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon | For surveyors young and old reading this, take a moment to reflect on your procedure or company procedure for notifying the public. We are lucky to have the protection of a law such as this in this state but only if we follow it as it is intended do we have any right to enter. OrYSN Corner I have been extremely lucky that no landowner or landowner’s attorney has taken the opportunity to “throw the book at me” regarding illegal trespass. The first item of discussion at the seminar that hit home is the understanding that verbal permission does not count as personal notice as required by statute. A hostile confrontation, even if it turns jovial, ending in the exchange of a few laughs and swapping of business cards, does not fulfill the requirements of notice according to ORS 672.047(4). The notice shall give the professional land surveyor’s name, address, telephone number, purpose, availability, and the presence of any temporary or permanent monuments or other markers to be left on the land. Not sure about you, but my business cards only cover about a third of the stated required items, so right away I have performed faux pas numero uno. The second itemof discussion that seems so trivial, but blew my mind as to how I break the law relates to what actually is deemed a trespass or perhaps a perceived trespass when conducting a boundary survey. An example discussed during the seminar included a surveyor who was charged for not properly notifying the landowners while locating front lot corners along the road right of way while accessing them from the right of way. ORS 672.047(1) reads in part “a registered professional land surveyor, or any employee or agent of the land surveyor, may enter on foot, where practicable, upon any land for the purpose of surveying or performing any survey work.” The dilemma presented comes when unpacking the definition “may enter on foot.” In the surveyor’s defense, he never set foot on their property outside of the public right of way. However, to my understanding (be it limited) and my number one take away from the seminar, the surveyor’s fault came as a failure to notify the landowners of “entering” their property to locate the monument. How did he enter the property on foot? I thought to myself, he’s standing in the public road right of way? Even though it is not on foot, leveling up your rod over the center of the monument is indeed seen as a trespass as half of the rod (maybe more or less for those who don’t calibrate the rod bubble) is outside of the right of way. It seems like such a novel concept, but opened my eyes to the fact that even if you are locating monuments, setting monuments, or setting points along a property line while performing everything from your client’s side of the line doesn’t mean that you are still not trespassing on the neighboring property in doing so. I should have seen that clearly as my sweet-talking line No. 5 is, “Their line is your line so you are actually getting a partial free survey out of the deal!” If every line that we survey (mark, retrace, locate, etc.) marks the ownership between two properties, then to me and what I understand now, we better be notifying the neighbors, the landowners, or occupants every time we survey (locate, set, mark, flag, etc.) any line that another party is occasioned to its use. The same holds true for construction or topo work along a right-of-way. In the case presented above, not just one trespass, but two were occurring as the monument along the right of way was not only marking the line for one property, but for two neighboring lots. The right of entry door hangers, purchasable from PLSO, are a handy tool and surprisingly are becoming an everyday occurrence with what I know now. Be it mailing, at least seven days before I head to the job to any and every landowner I might potentially need to access, or keeping a stack in a Ziploc bag in my vest pocket, I am going to make certain that I use the law as intended to protect not only my business, but the bonafide rights of any neighbor I might encounter or need to encounter to perform the work. To this point, I have luckily avoided any potential run-ins with the law but that doesn’t mean that I plan to keep operating my business nor training my employees in the same fashion. There are still some questions I have as to the minutiae of the law regarding contacting various agencies, be them state or federal and how the statute is applied in those instances, but for now I have a good starting place to correct my procedures and let the world know that I’m coming in, whether you like it or not. Statutorily correct, of course. For surveyors young and old reading this, take a moment to reflect on your procedure or company procedure for notifying the public. We are lucky to have the protection of a law such as this in this state, but only if we follow it as it is intended do we have any right to enter. Doing it right takes time, can be a royal pain, and add cost to our projects, but the cost of doing it wrong is not just a fine slapped on you from the board, but might also add a level of difficulty to defend your survey and discredit you in court, because if you ignored this statute, what other statutes are you ignoring? Ignoring the proper procedure is a good way to also damage our reputation as surveyors with the public as a whole and it ultimately does not protect their property rights in the manner we are licensed to hold paramount. x